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Commons sense

The Kootenay Co-op is thinking big by thinking smaller and Nelson’s downtown will be better off because of it.
The parking lot that was used by Extra Foods is expansive and the Kootenay Co-op plans to transform it into something completely different.

The Kootenay Co-op is thinking big by thinking smaller and Nelson’s downtown will be better off because of it.

On today’s front page you can read the story about the natural foods grocery store’s vision for the Extra Foods property the Co-op purchased this past spring. Still very early in the process, it looks as though the membership and leadership of the popular co-op is setting a course for a mixed use development that will completely transform the east end of Baker Street.

Called Nelson Commons, the plan at this point is to demolish the existing building and start from scratch. Of course there will be a new and improved 18,000 square foot grocery store that will stand as the centrepiece of the Commons. But it’s the bigger plans that will have the most significant impact on the core.

The hope is to have 30 to 40 residential units in the Commons which would range from 700 to 1,400 square feet. The price range for these condos would start at the low $200,000 range and rise to the high $400,000s. In a world heading towards scarcity of resources and changing how we live, that type of housing is the future.

Though the grocery store will be the anchor of the Commons, the plans include another 180,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. An area for like-minded businesses to settle and bring more life to the block.

Currently the parking lot and weathered building are a blight on the downtown, but the Commons is pushing the idea of a public space “where people gather to meet friends, enjoy the sunshine, have a coffee and perhaps a meal, listen to music, watch jugglers and discuss the issues of the day.”

This is all being done with an open mind and plenty of dialogue. The Commons is currently gathering information through a survey at its website — — where you can have your say. If you care about the future of this community, you will want to take a look.

Congratulations to the Co-op and its members for hatching this exciting plan for the downtown. We look forward to the day this dream becomes reality.


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